|Name: Flathead Catfish
|Scientific name: Pylodictis olivaris
|Range: Rivers in the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio basins;
as far north as North Dakota, as far west as New Mexico, and south to the
Gulf including eastern Mexico; statewide in Texas, also found in limited
areas of Florida
|Habitat: Large rivers and tributaries
|Status: Not threatened
|Diet in the wild: Bass, bream, shad, crayfish, aquatic insects,
and other catfish
|Diet in the zoo: A special food called grind, and Kacklin
|Location in the zoo: James
R. Record Aquarium
Physical description: The flathead catfish is typically
yellow to light brown colored on the dorsal and sides. The belly
is typically yellow or cream and flatheads are mottled with brown and/or
black. The flathead as well as all catfish are scale-less fish.
The flathead of course has the customary long barbels about the mouth that
resemble whiskers, hence the name "catfish". The head of the flathead
is flattened and their lower is jaw is extremely huge. Interestingly,
the young flathead looks nothing in color like the adult, the young is
sometimes black until adulthood.
|General information: The flathead catfish has a huge
range that encompasses numerous states in the United States and Mexico.
Flatheads are native the entire state and of Texas are fished heavily in
Texas as well as wherever they may dwell. Female flatheads can lay
up to 100,000 eggs and these eggs are guarded by one adult male.
The adult male guards these eggs with his life and will fight to protect
them. Adult males are usually "loners" that prefer the deeper waters
or the cover of a log, rock, or shade from a tree. The world record
for the biggest flathead catfish caught is 91.25 pounds, caught in Lake
Lewisville, Texas. Flatheads have been observed and aged up to 19
years old, but it is likely that they live much longer than 19 years.
|Special anatomical, physiological or behavioral adaptations:
Flatheads are extremely strong fish and put up a fight for fishermen.
Flatheads are hard to fish due to their extreme solitary habits, night
time is considered the best time to catch them. It may be concluded
that since most adult flatheads are solitary they really do not care about
other flatheads, so they resort to cannibalism and eat their own on occasion.
Since they are predators and consume other fish it is no surprise that
they can get very large and heavy. "The barbels contain taste organs
and thus in a sense are an extension of the tongue. This is logical
since the majority of catfishes are active at dusk and at night and need
a supplementary organ to detect food" (Grzimek 363).
about the flathead catfishes of the Fort Worth Zoo: The flatheads at
the zoo are huge and weigh up to 50 pounds, with a length of 4 feet. "It
is not possible to tell what sex they are at the moment," Anita Jones stated.
The flatheads at the zoo are fed a special mix called grind and are also
fed Kacklin fish, since they are predators in the wild.
|Personal observations: The flatheads at the Fort Worth
Zoo are rather large and you can see their huge whiskers. They always
seem to look angry and bump into the glass of their aquarium. You
can see quite a ways down their huge mouths and it is obvious that they
are heavy eaters. They probably are angry because they can not be
in solitude like they prefer in their natural habitat.